First Responder Wellness: 5 Important Things to Know

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First responders are known and respected for their selfless dedication to helping others in crisis. However, responders often overlook how critical it is to manage their own personal wellness if they want to be physically and mentally prepared for their roles.

Research suggests that over 80% of paramedics, police officers, EMTs, firefighters, and rescue workers experience trauma on the job. And over a third of EMS personnel and firefighters have contemplated suicide at some point in their careers—nearly ten times the rate in average Americans.

First responder wellness initiatives ensure the quality of service, safety, and overall functioning of the entire first responder community. It also helps responders individually by:

  • Promoting better physical, mental, and emotional health.
  • Reducing the risk of burnout.
  • Enhancing stress-coping techniques.

First responders who work to improve their personal wellness also benefit from being more empathetic and compassionate when providing care to those in need.

Challenges That Threaten First Responder Wellness

First responders continually face numerous challenges that the general public does not, including:

  1. Traumatic events that lead to PTSD, emotional distress, and mental health issues.
  2. High stress which causes chronic anxiety.
  3. Long hours that disrupt sleep and cause fatigue.
  4. Lack of control over unpredictable situations that can result in another’s harm or death.
  5. Coping with loss and grief over victims and colleagues.
  6. Unhealthy coping strategies like substance abuse or other harmful behaviors.

What You Can Do to Improve Personal Wellness

Prioritizing personal wellness doesn’t need to be time-consuming or expensive. Steps you can try include:

  • Regular physical and mindfulness exercises to reduce stress and improve mental and general health.
  • Learning to manage stress with techniques like deep breathing, meditation, or engaging in enjoyable hobbies.
  • Staying informed about mental health issues and seeking professional help if experiencing anxiety, depression, or PTSD symptoms.
  • Limiting the use of alcohol and other recreational drugs.
  • Taking shift breaks and using rest days to recharge and avoid burnout.

Learn More About First Responder Wellness at Deer Hollow

Consulting with a professional therapist, including through telehealth outpatient services, can benefit first responders by providing a safe and confidential space to address the unique mental and emotional challenges they face in their demanding profession.

To learn more or to schedule a consultation, contact Deer Hollow today. It could be one of the most critical steps you take to improve your well-being and continue providing exceptional service to others.